12 Days of Gratitude – Lisa

Lisa Serrao

If you want to see the face of love, then you merely have to see my friend Lisa (the one who doesn’t need Rogaine).

A high-energy spitfire who gives of her time and her heart without a second thought, Lisa somehow manages to care for everyone she knows while still having a blast herself. And for her compact size, she has a laugh that fills a room and your soul.

To watch the glimmer in her eyes and feel the warmth of her smile is to know you are in the presence of a great spirit.


(Part Five of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Piper


This is my spirit guide and friend Piper, the bracing rush of fresh air that makes the world turn with her vivacity.

No one’s pushover, Piper eagerly embraces everything and everyone the world has to offer and gives a thousand-fold what she receives. You cannot help but smile in the presence of this beauty who warms your cheeks with laughter, your heart with joy and your soul with love.

She is a whirlwind that will make everything else in your life seem dull.

P.S. You can follow Piper on her life journey on her blog: Pipe’s Adventures/Living for Happiness

(Part Three of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

Memories of Iceland

Can’t believe that it is has been four years since I first set foot in that bizarre otherworldly island paradise.

To stand where the Earth is wrenching itself apart, to walk along cracks in million year old lava flows, to feel just a smidge of the planet’s inner thermal turmoil is to be humbled.

Seeing this photos again reminded me how badly I need to go back to Reykjavik and those wonderful lava fields, the juxtaposition of life and death.

The next level

Really? What a surprise. More stairs.

Really? What a surprise. More stairs.

Why does getting the next level always involve an uphill climb?

Not once in my life have I ever approached the entry point to the next level and been given the opportunity to walk down an incline or flight of stairs (except in a department store).

In a world of supposed ups and downs, you would think that half of the trips to the next level would involve moving downhill and yet, not for me (and I expect you, too).

Sure, you may be thinking, any move to the next level involves adding energy to push you from one state to another (we’re all physicists here), but walking downstairs takes energy too, you know. Lift the leg, move it forward, put it down. Energy, energy, energy.

If anyone has any insight on this dilemma, I would love to hear it…but don’t put yourself out…the universe is already doing enough of that for both of us.

The Devil’s in the detales

Attention to detail is craftsmanship.

Fixation on detail is neurosis.

It’s important to be diligent when working on a project, but not so diligent that the project is dead before it starts.

Relax. Let your natural skills and energies flow through you as you explore your art.

It is those little quirks that make the piece yours and not the same as every other piece ever produced.

The ceiling of the trophy room of the Hockey Hall of Fame, which used to be a bank. (Toronto)

The ceiling of the trophy room of the Hockey Hall of Fame, which used to be a bank. (Toronto)

Game face

Visit any professional sports locker room before a competition and you will see all kinds of rituals being performed. In some cases, music blares and bodies rock side-to-side as the players psych up for combat. Or the room will be deafeningly quiet as players turn inward to find a source of personal strength. Some pray. Some pound each other on their gear. Some attempt speeches that would make Henry V blush.

It’s about getting your head into the game. Putting on your game face.

I do the same thing with my writing. Well, perhaps not the same thing, but similar things. For me, writing is about being in the moment and being ready to accept what comes.

Writing takes training. Writing takes practice. But most of all, writing takes preparation.

If I know I want to explore a certain mood in my writing, I may listen to music that stimulates that mood in me. Right now, as I write this, I am listening to Division Bell by Pink Floyd.

Or I may watch a movie or two (perhaps just scenes) from which to take emotive and cosmic inspiration.

Other times, I may simply require quiet. Time to channel my energies completely to the task, without distraction.

Unfortunately, as much as I can do to control external distractions, I can only do so much about internal distractions. One way I accomplish this, however, is through practices that I describe as mental Etch-a-Sketch, activities that allow me to shake my mental landscape enough to erase the noise.

My predominant method is the card game Solitaire. The game does not tax me mentally, but requires just enough synaptic pattern-matching activity that it clears the slate of the noise. (I also like Mah-jongg, but find this takes too much focus to clear my head for anything else, so it remains a hobby.)

Using solitaire was something I learned as a child when I wanted to avoid thinking about things that were going on around me—a way to disappear physically and mentally from my world. But where it was a crutch for several decades of my life, it has now become a useful tool to help me prepare for my artistic efforts.

Once my mind is clear, the energy flows and ideas arrive like so many lightning bugs in the dwindling light. Fleeting inspirations ready to be tapped.

So, now that I have shared my secrets, how do you prepare to write? What is your pre-game ritual?

Let’s talk.

PS These are my stats essentially since the start of 2013…and yes, I live alone.